Learn about how migration has shaped cities around the world and the particular issues that migrants face in urban contexts

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Migration and Cities

Discover the fundamental links between migration and cities

Migration has always played a fundamental role in urban development. Without some form of inward migration – be it international or internal – cities would not develop or grow.

On this course you will explore the relationship between migration and cities both across history and in the world today. For example, you’ll learn about the influence of migration on the rise of modern, industrial cities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. You will also look at a range of contemporary issues at the urban scale, such as employment, settlement, public space and local policy.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 13 seconds People move between countries, or even within a country, for a variety of reasons. But did you know that it is cities that attract the majority of migrants? Yes. A close relationship exists between human mobility and urban growth. And this is what we will investigate during this course. We will look at different types of migration and how they change city landscapes physically, economically, socially, and of course culturally. Think of major metropolises, such as New York and Buenos Aires, that would not exist today had they not been the destination of massive migrant flows. And of industrial cities in North America and Western Europe that depended heavily on migrant workers.

Skip to 1 minute and 2 seconds We will look at how migrants have contributed to the economic innovation and growth of cities around the world. For example, by creating new businesses and establishing trade links with their countries of origin. We will consider how migrant settlement patterns and use of public space shape a city and are perceived by its citizens. We will also analyse some of the problems that have arisen in cities as a result of migration, such as social integration. And we will reflect on the possibilities and limits of urban policies in addressing such challenges. Follow our course and you will access stimulating expert interviews, interesting articles, and instructive case studies. Join the discussions and test your learning.


  • Week 1

    Rethinking the city and its history through migration

    • Welcome to our course

      Here we provide an overview of the course and introduce the team of instructors

    • Human mobility and urban history

      Here we introduce the different types of human movement towards urban areas before turning our attention to historical roots of migration in the foundation and development of cities.

    • Migration and the modern city

      Here we cover the role of migration in the development of the modern city during the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

    • Week 1 wrap up

      Here we summarise the material covered during week 1

  • Week 2

    Migration in the contemporary city: key issues and dilemmas

    • Migration and labour in contemporary cities

      Here we examine the different economic experiences and contributions of migrants in contemporary cities

    • How migrants remake cities

      Here we look at the questions of settlement and residential distribution of migrants as well as their use of urban public spaces to think about how migration shapes today's cities.

    • Problems and conflicts surrounding migration in cities

      He we consider some of the problems that arise as a result of migration to cities

    • Wrap up of Week 2

      Here we summarise the material covered in week 2 and look toward the final week of the course

  • Week 3

    Migration policy, heritage and urban networks

    • Migration governance at the urban scale

      We examine how city administrations have addressed migration and the possibilities and limits of policy at the urban scaple

    • Migration heritage and the city

      He we consider the ways in which histories of migration to cities have been incorporated into local understandings of cultural heritage

    • Migration and an urbanized world

      Here we consider transnational urban networks of migrants around the world

    • Assess your knowledge

      Assess what you have learnt about examining migration through the city

    • Wrap up of course

      We have the reached the end of our course. Let's review the themes that we have covered over the last three weeks.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore current debates on how migration has shaped cities historically
  • Investigate key issues regarding migrants in cities today
  • Assess the possibilities and limits of local policy in facilitating the integration of migrants in cities
  • Reflect on the ways in which migrants' networks between different cities around the world encourage a rethinking of international migration

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone interested in learning about migration and cities, you don’t need any past experience.

Who will you learn with?

Nick Dines is research fellow at the European University Institute, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies.

Anna Triandafyllidou is Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Who developed the course?

European University Institute (EUI)

The European University Institute offers doctoral and post-doctoral training in the social sciences. It hosts the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and the Historical Archives of the EU.

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Available until 22 November 2021 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

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